A Visit to Randolph-Macon

If you pay attention to state politics, you might remember hearing about Randolph-Macon College during the primary elections in the spring when House majority leader Eric Cantor was bested in the polls by a professor from a small liberal arts college in northern Virginia.

Even in the pouring rain, the historic campus is beautiful in the fall.
Even in the pouring rain, the historic campus is beautiful in the fall.

That professor was Dave Brat of the economics department at Randolph-Macon College, the liberal arts college which marked the first stop on the 2014 edition of the Council of Independent Colleges of Virginia (CICV) college tours.

Despite driving rain and sidewalks that had turned to rivers, our group of counselors (both guidance and independent) enjoyed a wonderful few hours on campus, hearing from the passionate faculty and inspired students who call the campus home.  The school is small – only about 1,400 students in total and all of them undergraduate – but it’s close knit and proud of its programs and people.

Want an example of that pride? The number one college football rivalry in the nation (in the nation!) isn’t between Ohio State and the University of Michigan as you might think, nor does it exist between two other similarly large and famous schools, but instead is that which exists between Randolph-Macon and their crosstown rival, Hamden-Sydney College. So intense is the rivalry and so passionate are the people, in fact, that on a particularly rainy Saturday several years ago when Randolph-Macon was to host, an alumnus of Randolph-Macon hired two large helicopters to hover over the football field and dry it with their rotors prior to kick off!

(Word on the street is that Randolph-Macon won that year.)

New student housing has been built to overlook the football stadium.  (Both upperclassmen and first years can enjoy the view!)
New student housing has been built to overlook the football stadium. (Both upperclassmen and first years can enjoy the view!)

Athletics aren’t the only thing that the Randolph-Macon community take seriously, however – academics are the main priority on campus.  Whether students have an interest in politics or business or want to study the brains of primates or immerse themselves in other STEM-related fields, there is a place for them within the institution.  Those who wish to do their own in-depth and significant research can even apply for grants to help fund their dreams and those who plan to move into the workforce after graduation can find all of the support they need at the on-campus career center known as “The Edge.”  (The admission office and career services actually share a building at Randolph-Macon, a relationship that the vice president for enrollment affectionately refers to as “the alpha and the omega” of the school.)

Riders, if you’re interested in what the school has to offer, you’ll be very glad to learn that Randolph-Macon rides in the IHSA and is based at Stillmeadows Farm in nearby Mechanicsville, VA.  The team rides in the hunt seat division and competes against their regional rivals, such as the University of Richmond and the University of Mary Washington.  Ten lessons per semester minimum are required of all team members and there is boarding available for students at Stillmeadows or at other local riding stables if they wish to bring their own horses to campus with them.

Could Randolph-Macon be a school that fits both your academic goals and the ones you have for your riding?  Contact me or pick up a copy of my book and we’ll find out!

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